Lecture Nine: Objections and Replies


Study Questions

1. Does the fact that we human beings invariably live in some culture or other mean that morality is invariably something that is culturally relative?  Is there any reliable way to transcend the fact that we live in one particular culture and reach a knowledge of any moral absolute?

2. Does the concept of “human nature” that is used in a sound theory of the natural moral law reduce claims about morality to claims about the biological order?  What other aspects of human nature need to be considered and how do they come to be known?  Does the use of a concept of human nature mistake what is what is morally normative for what is merely a matter of statistical normality? 

3. How does Veritatis splendor interweave the biblical perspective (e.g., Jesus’s saying at Matthew 19:8, “But from the beginning it was not so...”) with a philosophical perspective on the human nature as something that is common to all human beings (e.g., claims about the universality and immutability of the natural moral law)?  How does this approach respond to the charges of historicism, including the objection that we cannot know what human nature may come to be in the future?


Suggestions for further reading:

Pope John Paul II. Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body. Translated with introduction and index by Michael Waldstein. Boston MA: Pauline Books, 2006.

Charles E. Curran. “Veritatis splendor: A Revisionist Perspective” in Veritatis splendor: American Responses, edited by Michael E. Allsopp and John J. O’Keefe. Kansas City KS: Sheed & Ward, 1995, pp. 224-43. This is an article that generally defends the positions that Veritatis splendor is criticizing.

William May, “John Paul II, Moral Theology, and Moral Theologians” in Veritatis splendor and the Renewal of Moral Theology, edited by J.A. DiNoia, O.P. and Romanus Cessario, O.P.   Huntington IN: Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 1999, pp. 211-40.